Being Inspired, maybe - 109

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

I'd been to London before, not with Cecile but my parents as an end of school graduation present.  My father had called it a mission to see how the other half live, and why, in his opinion, our country didn't need a Queen to be our head of state.

A Republican, not a royalist.  But it had done little to change my opinion, simply because it didn't matter to me who ran the country, all positions of any color were equally as useless.

But I remembered the trek over London, seeing the horse guards, number 10 downing street, the houses of parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.  A whirlwind of ancient buildings that had been in existence long before our country had been discovered.

A little of that sense of awe I had then came back when passing by Trafalgar square and heading down Whitehall as far as Whitehall place.

If we were not on a mission, I would have liked to spend more time exploring because the last time had been so quick and disjointed.  My father had not been one for being a tourist.  Neither, apparently, was Emily.

In sight of the hotel, I felt a shiver go down my spine, either a sign of the cold weather or there was something wrong.

I stopped suddenly and turned.  Emily nearly crashed into me, eliciting a grunt between disapproval and annoyance.  "What is the matter with you?"

She turned also to see what had caught my interest.  She was too late, but I hadn't.  Two people, what looked to be a man and a woman, had almost managed to blend into the background, but not before I caught a glimpse of them.

They were familiar in the sense that I could swear I'd already seen them before, way back at Trafalgar square trying to act like tourists, which was what caught my attention.

"There's nothing there, you're jumping at shadows."

I still kept an eye on that direction, waiting to see if they showed themselves.  They didn't, but that didn't mean they were not there.  And if they were following is, I was leading them to the hotel where if we discovered nothing, they no doubt had the resources that could.

Better I didn't lead them there.

"Believe it or not, there are two people following us and I'm not going to lead them to the hotel.  We are going past it and onto the gardens, then along the riverside to the Houses of Parliament if we have to, to lose them.”.

It took a combination of the cold weather and luck to shake off the people following us.

In fact, by the time I realized they were no longer there, I had begun to believe it was just a case of nerves and imagination.

We'd walked quite a distance up the Embankment, almost to Westminster Abbey before coming back down Whitehall.  Even with snow lightly falling, there were the intrepid tourists vying to get their photos taken with the Horseguards standing in guard duty.

It was not a job I could do in all sorts of weather, but standing still on a day that is cold, snowing, or worse raining, would be debilitating, if not impossible.

Emily had not said very much while we dodged and weaved, and, to her, it must have seemed comical.  And after I said I thought we were in the clear she said, "Are you sure you're not suffering from an overactive imagination?"

At that moment, in the middle of Whitehall with the snow coming down, her comment seemed valid.  "That's quite likely, but I honestly thought I saw someone, possibly two people more than once."

"There's a lot of people out and about, so seeing them more than once doesn't necessarily mean 
they're following us."

True, but it was better to be safe than sorry.  And I had a very bad feeling we were going to run into them again.  Whatever Cecile had done, it had to be serious if she was trying this hard not to be found.

It didn't take long, after walking a brisk pace in the cold, spurred on by the fact the snow was falling more densely, and it was getting harder to see anything through the white shroud before we reached the hotel again.  I checked again, waiting a minute or two, just to make sure we'd got away from them before escorting Emily through the door.

Once inside, after shaking off the snow, it was considerably warmer.  I notice then my hands had begun to freeze, and stepping back into warmth cause a tingling sensation through them.  Another hour and they'd be iceblocks.

We took off our coats and went over to the reception counter.

The check-in clerk with the name tag 'Wendy', hung up the phone, the call she was on completed, then turned her attention to us.

"How may I help you?"

"I'm hoping you have a guest here named Cecile Robinson.  She would have checked in four days ago.  My name is (name) and she was expecting me."

Wendy typed the name into the computer.  It took about a minute before her expression changed, possibly indicating she'd found something.

"I'll be just a moment."

Without waiting for my response as she went through a door almost behind her, onto an office of sorts.  I could see two people in there just before the door closed.

The reception desk manager, or security.

I just hoped she wasn’t calling the police.

© Charles Heath 2020


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